Unlabeled Sensing with Random Linear Measurements

We study the problem of solving a linear sensing system when the observations are unlabeled. Specifically we seek a solution to a linear system of equations y = Ax when the order of the observations in the vector y is unknown. Focusing on the setting in which A is a random matrix with i.i.d. entries, we show that if the sensing matrix A admits an oversampling ratio of 2 or higher, then, with probability 1, it is possible to recover x exactly without the knowledge of the order of the observations in y. Furthermore, if x is of dimension K, then any 2K entries of y are sufficient to recover x. This result implies the existence of deterministic unlabeled sensing matrices with an oversampling factor of 2 that admit perfect reconstruction. The result is universal in that conditioned on the realization of matrix A, recovery is guaranteed for all possible choices of x. While the proof is constructive, it uses a combinatorial algorithm which is not practical, leaving the question of complexity open. We also analyze a noisy version of the problem and show that local stability is guaranteed by the solution. In particular, for every x, the recovery error tends to zero as the signal-to-noise ratio tends to infinity. The question of universal stability is unclear. In addition, we obtain a converse of the result in the noiseless case: If the number of observations in y is less than 2K, then with probability 1, universal recovery fails, i.e., with probability 1, there exist distinct choices of x which lead to the same unordered list of observations in y. We also present extensions of the result of the noiseless case to special cases with non-i.i.d. entries in A, and to a different setting in which the labels of a portion of the observations y are known. In terms of applications, the unlabeled sensing problem is related to data association problems encountered in different domains including robotics where it is appears in a method called “simultaneous localization and mapping”, multi-target tracking applications, and in sampling signals in the presence of jitter.

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